Don’t know why but our last two weekends wasted at office or home and we were desperate to go out for a quick trek in Sahayadris before monsoon comes to an end. As per our discussions with Khandge Ji and other trekkers whom we know, we came to know that trekking in monsoon season in Sahayadri’s is an all together different experience and we didn’t want to let go of this oppurtunity. So on Friday we decided to go for a short trek to Lohgarh in Lonavala region of Sahayadri.
Start of Journey:
As Nipun and Saurabh had not brought their stuff to office, so they decided to move to their home in Mira Road and come back to my place at night. We’d many options to go to Lonavala. Their is a train at 5:40 A.M., or we could even move by bus at night. Looking up at Website of Maharashtra State Transport Corp., we found that a bus leaves to Lonvala from Dadar at 1:40 A.M. and we decided to catch this bus. As Nipun and Saurabh moved back to Mira Road after office, me, Safeer and Amol decided to enjoy high tide at Juhu beach. But to our disappointment tide had retraced and instead we went on to watch a truely pathetic movie “Luck”. As we returned back, it was 10:00 P.M. and we ordered dinner and once dinner was over I found that I was feeling sleepy, rice and butter milk were doing their job pretty well. Nipun and Saurabh also called up and told that they too had a royal dinner and were feeling sleepy. But we’d to do this trek and after some pushing by our leader, aka Saurabh, we decided to go ahead with the plan. Nipun and Saurabh arrived around 12:00 midnight at my place and after having a cup of tea, thanks to Safeer, we decided to move out. A quick ride to Dadar in taxi and we were at bus station where a bus to Pune was already awaiting us. After purchasing tickets (even if one has to drop down at Lonavala, the fare is charged for Pune, i.e. Rs. 135), we decided to board the bus and take a quick nap. The bus to Pune was going via Express Highway and driver told us that he’ll drop us at Kamath Hotel on Express Highway and we could get an autorickshaw easily there. As bus moved on, it was time to go for a quick sleep.
Around 3:30 A.M. the bus driver stopped the bus at express highway and told us that this was the place where we’d to leave. As we stepped out of bus, we were given a great welcome by the chilling winds. It was pinch dark and we couldn’t see any human soul in near vicinity. Nipun said that we should cross express highway and we were about to do so, when Saurabh complained that it won’t be a great idea, as we were on top of a flyover and after crossing the roads, we’d be no where. Moreover crossing Express Highway is in itself, not a great idea. So it was time to move around and see where we could go. Soon we found a diversion which would take us down to another road. As we were moving down, rain too started to come down and when rains come down here, they come down real heavily. Saurabh and Nipun had brought Wind Cheaters but I was not and soon I found myself in a misreable situation, where I was completely drenched in water standing all out in open, in night with chilling winds flowing. However for some reasons or other, my condition was comparetevly better than Nipun who was shivering like anything. After walking for few minutes, we reached Old Pune highway and we were not sure where to move exactly. One of the indicators was showing route to Pune and other to Mumbai, but there was no sign of way to Lonavala (and this was because we were infact in Lonavala. It’s only that we realized this fact much later). Rain had now begun to come down heavily and we decided to take a shelter. However being a highway we couldn’t see any shops or houses on road side. So as most poor people in India do, we decided to take shelter under a flyover. There were some shops built underneath and few benches. Though the benches were completely wet and on any other normal day, we’d never sit on ’em, but today we were ready for anything and we found a small space outside a shop and soon me and Nipun went out for sleep. Don’t know if it was fatigue or what, but even in such chilling, wet conditions we managed to take a quick nap. Saurabh however was awake for entire period and was wandering here and there. One thing, which such walking do is, make a person’s bowel move and as I woke up and inquired Nipun about Saurabh, he indicated that Saurabh had gone for loo. What the F***K ? He managed to empty his bowels right there behind some benches ! Soon first few rays of Sun piereced the darkness and we got a nice look at place where we’d spent the night. We decided to walk in the direction of Mumbai and it was a correct decision as one of the passerby told us that Lonavala Station was just few minutes ahead. I don’t know, if it’s people who are at fault or it’s us, who’s pace is too slow, but never ever in my life, have I been able to reach a place in time as told by passerby. Few minutes of journey to Lonavala Station as told to us, took us almost half an hour, but we finally managed to reach station by 6:30 A.M. Local train to Pune was scheduled to leave at 7:20 A.M. and soon we were travelling to Malavali (Malavali is first station after Lonvala towards Pune at a distance of 9 Kms, the fare is Rs. 4/- per person for second class).
We reached Malavali around 7:45 A.M. Nipun and Saurabh quickly changed their dress and came down to trekking gears. We’d a quick photo session at Malavali station and it was time to kick start our trek. However first we’d to pack some stuff for lunch and we decided to buy some Vada Pao and Parle G biscuits. Trek to Lohgarh actually starts from Bhaje village and one can move to Bhaje either via private vehicle or autorickshaw. But we decided to move on foot and weather was also on our side. We crossed an overbridge over Pune Express Highway and seriously this highway is one of the few things in India which have been built keeping at least 10 years of future in sight. Soon we reached Bhaje village. This is a small village and in month of monsoon, plenty shops surface up, as many people come down to this place for a nice weekend hangout. Start of trek Trek to Lohgarh is farely easy as compared to other treks I’ve done in Sahayadri’s, but beauty of the place is really something worth watching. There are two forts, one is Visapur Fort and other is Lohgarh. Apart from this there are Kali caves which attract people to this place. But the best part is the waterfalls which are simply mesmerizing. As we crossed Bhaje village, we soon found first waterfall. This was a big one as compared to one which we’d seen between Malavani and Bhaje. We took few photographs there and moved ahead. The route to Lohgarh is pretty well laid upon and we even found few brave souls trying to take their Bikes up the hill. However for trekkers the best way is to take shortcut routes. At every bend one can find a rough path leading up and one can take these paths to climb quickly. However during monsoon these paths are a bit slippery and one must be always careful. After around half an hour of climb we reached a place where we could see a small grass land and beyond the grass land was a view which was really soothing to eyes. There were four or five waterfalls coming down the mountain on top of which was Lohgarh fort. The fort was completely hidden in thick blanket of clouds and the view was simply nostalgic. We took some photographs there and carried on with the journey. As we reached mid way, rain began to come down really heavily. We managed to find a tea shop there and had a warm cup of tea. Hot cup of tea is something which revitalizes the energy levels within. While tea was being prepared, we managed to spend some time taking photographs on a lush green land. The greenry here was something I’ve never seen in my life. And with a small drain flowing besides it, it was one of the most scenic points. We spend sometime over there and me and Saurabh even found sometime to bring kid inside us out and soon we were playing inside that small drain, trying to drench each other 🙂 Having a cup of tea and relaxed for a while we moved ahead and soon reached a place where the path to Lohgarh and Visagarh diverts. There was a huge waterfall coming down from Visapur fort and heavy winds were trying to take down coming water with ’em and we spent about 15 min over there, appreciating the beauty of the place.
At Lohgarh Fort
Soon we reached the stairs which would take us atop Lohgarh fort. I am still surprised by the quality of the buildings of those period. I mean, look at the buildings which are built today with state of art technology at our hands and considering this, it seems that though we’ve made advancements in technological front, but we’ve also lost something along the way. And that thing to me is appreciation for quality and finesse. Lohgarh is an example of architectural beauty. The way it has been designed is something which really makes a person think out about the level of commitment and effort that must have gone to built such a huge structure. And considering the fact that these structures were made at time when there was no good means of transportation, makes the task even more commendable. As we were climbing up the fort stair case, we found a cave which was not in a position to be explored, as water had logged inside it. Along mid way we found a place from where one could get a good glimpse at Pavana dam, we spent some time over there but as it was raining heavily we decided to first explore the fort. Upon reaching the top, at first I was disappointed as everything was covered under a thick cloud of fog. First of all we went to Buruj (that’s the place where flag is hosted), next we visited a shrine of some holy saint and as we were moving ahead, Saurabh decided to take a different route. “Abe Nipun, Mayank …. Kahan ho tum log…. Idhar aao be ….”, we heard screams of Saurabh and we knew that he’d found something really exciting. As we walked along the path taken by him, we reached a flat green land which was water logged and winds were flowing ferociously over there. We kept on walking in direction from where we had heard screams of Saurabh and as we reached end of green land, the view simply stunned us. It was a dead end and right infront of us was a huge cliff down which was flowing a huge water fall. The winds were flowing so heavily over here that the entire water started to flow in reverse direction, i.e. towards the sky and it gave a phenomenol look to the entire view. Everyone was really excited and we spent nearly one hour over there. The winds were really strong and we were finding it real hard to keep our feet intact. Considering the fact that we were standing right at edge of cliff, the winds were making this job even more tougher and to add to this was the fact, that the water flowing upwards was hitting us like sharpnels. But it was an experience of a life time and we thoughrougly enjoyed the entire scene. I found my spot on top of a rock and I was simply mesmerized by the sheer power of wind blowing right across my face. We spent quite some time over there. However as we were leaving the place, we began to feel cold and soon we were shivering like anything. Now this was not a good sign as we also wanted to explore Visapur fort. However considering the conditions we decided to abandon the idea and after exploring the Lohgarh fort completely, we decided to move back. While coming down the fort, we managed to find space at place, from where the view of Pavana dam was visible. This was a marvelous view and I really enjoyed the scenery of this place. We spent around 1 hour, just sitting at the place and appreciating the beauty of the place. We could see village down somewhere and farmers sowing rice, far away we could see Pavana dam in all it’s glory and surrounding the area were lush green Sahayadri hills. This view was something which I’ll never forget in my lifetime. As we came down, everyone was feeling hungry, so we had a couple of sweet corns and a hot cup of masala chai and within next one hour we were back at Malavani railway station. However as train to Lonavala was scheduled to arrive at 5:00 P.M. and we’d have to wait for 2 hours, so we decided to take an autorickshaw instead. The auto ride cost us Rs. 180/- and we managed to reach Lonavala by 3:45 P.M. Our train to Mumbai was scheduled for 4:40 P.M. (Pune-Dadar Express) and this was a nice end to yet another excellent trip in Sahayadri’s.
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